If you weren’t at the National Winter Ales Festival, which is on its final day today, you missed a treat: great beer, great venue and great food. But don’t despair: next weekend you can instead make your way to Atherton for the annual Bent ‘n’ Bongs Beer Bash, which runs from 28th to 30th January. This year is the festival's 21st anniversary. Full details and a map are on the festival website.
Bent ‘n’ Bongs is an easy-going festival with a friendly atmosphere. As well as a good range of real ales, ciders and perries, live music is thrown in too. You often get chatting to complete strangers at festivals. Last year I was chatting to a female Doctor Who fan, but she stopped talking to me when she found I liked Torchwood, which she hated. Oh well …
Alcohol campaigners would be flummoxed by the lack of disorder and mayhem at beer festivals, despite the amount of beer being consumed: no fights, no collapsed drunks, and no throwing up in the street. But then, they don’t realise that the cause of problem drinking is the drinker, not the drink; for me, beer festivals prove this. If you’ve never been to one, this would be a good one to try.
It’s easy to get to by direct train from Southport on the Manchester line. The festival website says it’s a five minute walk from the station. Well, they must have got Linford Christie to measure it, as I reckon it’s about two thirds of a mile. Not a bad stroll to build up a thirst ~ or to walk off some of the beer afterwards!
This festival is a joint venture by Round Table and Wigan CAMRA and is a charity fundraiser. This year the two main causes are the Meningitis Trust, and CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young). Other beneficiaries are: Bent ‘n’ Bongs Explorer Scout Unit, Girl Guides, North West Air Ambulance and Guide Dogs. So you can drink happy in the knowledge that the profits will go to good causes, as opposed to some greedy pub company.
Why Bent ‘n’ Bongs? Apparently Bent is the local name for Atherton and Bongs for Tyldesley.